Can Supreme survive its acquisition by VF Corp?

Chatter among fashion followers went into overdrive yesterday when VF Corp.—owner of brands such as Vans, The North Face, Timberland, and Dickies—announced it would acquire streetwear pioneer Supreme for $2.1 billion.

For Supreme, the move could hardly seem more opposed to its ethos. Since its origin as a single New York shop selling to the local skate community, its success has been based on its independent and uncompromising attitude as much as keeping demand high and supply low by releasing weekly drops of new products in small quantities. It was already a surprise when founder James Jebbia sold half the business in 2017 to private-equity firm Carlyle Group. To now have a large, publicly traded conglomerate take over was even more of a shock.

It raises the question of whether Supreme can endure, or if the brand will lose the elements that made it desirable in the first place. Jebbia himself once told the New York Times Supreme “needs to be cool to survive.” The short answer is the brand probably can survive, depending how you define cool.

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Author: Marc Bain